Thursday, January 22, 2015

Huge News!!


VIA VOGUE AUSTRALIA
Here’s how this post goes:

[Insert boring intro you’re not going to read here.]

[A few more pointless things to really ratchet up the suspense]

[Endless ellipses to keep you scrolling]

And what you really want to know:

I have an agent!

I’m so very excited to announce I am now represented by Sarah LaPolla of Bradford Literary Agency.

I’d tell you the whole story now, but it’s a bit hard to type while jumping up and down, and the Champagne is starting to spill, so… A post for a later date.

In the meantime, I’m going to celebrate by getting a teeth cleaning, because that’s how I roll.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

In Which My Bookseller Sister Explains The Boxcar Children to a Parent



I don’t work in retail because I generally dislike people. Or at least shoppers. No, probably just people.

My sister, on the other hand, is much nicer than I am. She manages a Barnes & Noble, and not once has she punched someone in the face for asking for “that book I saw here last time; the one with the red cover.” I think this says a lot about her character.

This isn’t a story about customer stupidity. I thought you should know that right now in case you were getting all excited about hearing about the woman who couldn’t find the shelves with the Nook books.*

No, this is about a mother searching for a good book for her young child. It’s also about how difficult it can be to pitch a book off the cuff.

This happened a while ago, but I was reminded of it recently when I was describing trying to describe my WIP.
The woman was in her late 30s, early 40s. She was on the hunt for a book series her elementary school–age kid would enjoy. “What did you read at that age?” 
My sister rattled off a list of chapter book series, like the The Babysitters Club, Ramona Quimby, and Encyclopedia Brown. “And The Boxcar Children,” she said. 
“I’ve never heard of that one.” 
“Oh. We used to get them from the library all the time when we were little.” 
Libraries are like bookstores, but instead of buying the books, you borrow them for a short time. When I was young, pretty much everything we read came from the library. (This was in the prehistoric era, when there was no such thing as Amazon Prime and free two-day delivery.) 
“What’s it about?” The woman was interested now. My sister didn’t mean the mention of the series as a recommendation, but for some reason, this customer was hooked on The Boxcar Children. “Well, in the first book it’s this family of homeless kids—” 
“Homeless?” 
“Well, not really. The boxcar was their home. See, their parents died so they lived in empty train cars. They went on all these adventures. And I think they had to, like, steal food and bedding and stuff.** Or maybe they begged people for money to buy food. I can’t remember.” 
“So, hobo beggars?” 
“Yeah. They were real independent.” 
“And this is a children’s book?” 
By this point, my sister was wishing she never mentioned The Boxcar Children or at the very least had read it again at some point during the past two decades. “Yeah, but maybe there’s something else—” 
“That sounds horrible,” the customer said. 
“It’s really not. I just don’t remember it well.” 
“Child hobos.” 
“I think I explained it poorly. There are four kids and … Let me show you what else we have.”
The moral of this story is: Succinctly explaining the plot of a book is hard. Succinctly explaining the plot of a book you read 25 years ago is really, really hard.

This reminds me of those hilarious movie loglines that twist the plot but are surprisingly accurate. (Like this.) Leave yours in the comments.


* They’re on the Nook, in case you’re curious. Or online.

** As it turns out, this isn’t the case. Like the examples of moral excellence that they are, the children always ask before taking. (That knowledge thanks to this review.)

Monday, December 22, 2014

8 Terrible Titles


THIS COULD BE A SCENE IN MY WIP, I'LL SHAVE YOUR EYEBROWS.
PHOTO BY AKINORI ITO (VIA)
I was tagged by Katy Upperman to participate in the hilariously awesome “Terrible Titles” blog hop. She’s the author of the gripping Stare Out the Windshield (you can see her seven other terrible titles here).

Here’s how it works: Writers scroll through their manuscript and stop in random places. Whatever words/phrase the cursor lands on becomes one of eight terrible titles.

My current WIP, which I’m only halfway through drafting, is about a group of teens searching for a rumored treasure on Blackbird Island. I’ve been calling it Island WIP in my head, but now I have eight ready-made titles to choose from:
  1. A Very Tidy Kisser
  2. I’ll Shave Your Eyebrows
  3. I’m Cheapest In the Summer
  4. Worse Than Dirty Undies
  5. A Bite of Pop-Tart
  6. Making War With Acorns
  7. Stooped With Shame
  8. A Fantastic Dismissal

Honestly, I can’t see I’ll Shave Your Eyebrows as anything but a bestseller. I’m going to tag Alice, Jaime Morrow, and Liz Parker. May their titles be as terrible as mine.


Winners!
Thank you to everyone who participated in the 2014 YA Superlatives Blogfest. I’m sure you’re curious about the giveaway, so here it goes: The winners are Rachel at Beauty and the Bookshelf, Elodie Nowodazkij, Nicole at Quality Fangirls, and Sophie L. And thank you to Kelsey Macke, who’s donated her novel, Damsel Distressed, to a bonus winner: Sarah Chafin. Please contact Katy Upperman at katy[dot]upperman[at]live[dot]com!


Thursday, December 18, 2014

2014 YA Superlative Blogfest: Best In Show



Well, guys, this is it. The very final day of the 2014 YA Superlative Blogfest. To everyone who’s participated, it’s been so fun reading about your favorite books. If you’re just joining in, so far I’ve picked my favorites for Head of the Class, Popularity Contest, and Elements of Fiction. And today we’re wrapping it up with Best In Show. 

As always, click book titles to head to the Goodreads page. And now, here are my favorites:



FAVORITE COVER
Shocker: I’m a huge fan of the typography trend in YA book cover design. Also a win in my book: gorgeous illustrations and simple or delicate covers. For more of my favorite book covers (for children’s and adult books), go here.


CUTEST COUPLE
I’m not going to say anything about these couples because to do so would be to reveal some major spoilers. But let’s just say each book has a couple I’m 100 percent behind.



MOST LIKELY TO SUCCEED (OR, PICK A PRINTZ WINNER)
Like I said, I haven’t even read this yet, but based on Jandy Nelson’s writing and storytelling in The Sky Is Everywhere, I’m sure this one’s a Printz just waiting to happen.



MOST LIKELY TO MAKE YOU MISS YOUR BEDTIME (BOOK YOU JUST COULDN’T PUT DOWN!)

To be honest, every book makes me miss my bedtime. Once I’m sucked in, that’s it. The Man is not fond of this character flaw. I do remember this particular exchange one night while reading Kiss of Deception:
Me: Just one more chapter.
The Man: Fine. Tell me when you’re done.
Me: …
The Man: How’s that chapter coming?
Me: What huh? Chapter? Oh…it’s coming…
The Man: Long chapter, huh?
Me: Oh yeah, at least 50 pages…



BEST REPEAT PERFORMANCE (YOUR FAVORITE SEQUEL OR FOLLOW-UP)
Of the sequels I read, so many were really great. This was tops.



FAVORITE FINALE OR END OF SERIES NOVEL
I’ve been a fan of Warner since Shatter Me and especially after Destroy Me, so I was happy by the way this wrapped up with a happy ending for him. I was also a fan of Juliet’s transformation from a somewhat whiny girl in the first books to someone who stood up for herself at the end.



ROMANCE MOST WORTHY OF AN ICE BATH
Um, yeah.



BREAKOUT NOVEL (YOUR FAVORITE BOOK BY A DEBUT AUTHOR)
I won’t reiterate what I’ve already said about this book, but it was a surprisingly great read with a new setting and an insanely likable main character.



BEST OLD-TIMER (YOUR FAVORITE READ OF THE YEAR, PUBLISHED BEFORE 2014)
One of my favorite reads this year was the Seven Realms series by Cinda Williams Chima. I devoured these books one after the other for the incredible world-building, three-dimensional characters, romance I was rooting for, and great plot. I highly recommend this series. And—bonus!—all of the books have been published so there’s no wait for the next in the series.



BOOK MOST LIKELY TO MAKE A GROWN MAN CRY
This one surprised me, mostly because no one was dying of cancer, and cancer books always make me bawl. But there were a few scenes where the main character, Michael, loses all that’s important to him, and they were heartbreaking. He exhibits such emotional restraint, which made me feel ALL THE EMOTIONS.



MOST PLEASANT SURPRISE (BEST BOOK YOU DIDN’T THINK YOU’D LIKE, BUT TOTALLY DID)
I’ll admit: I was a bit skeptical because, you know, cousins. And not How We Live Now cousins, who meet for the first time as strangers, but known-you-all-my-life cousins. It’s an icky subject, but I was surprised by how much I liked this story.



MOST CREATIVE USE OF A LOVE TRIANGLE
Here’s how it works: Our main character, Lia, flees to a village where she meets two men: the prince whose marriage she fled from and an assassin sent to kill her. She doesn’t know who’s who, and even though we get chapters from both the prince’s and assassin’s POVs, we don’t know who’s who. Basically brilliant.




SLEEPER HIT (BOOK YOU FOUND SO AWESOME YOU WISH IT HAD BEEN HYPED MORE)
How’s this for two books that are completely different but both worth a read? First, there’s Creed, which only just came out and is a fantastic horror novel. Then there’s Magnolia, which has a great romance and Deep South setting you’ll be able to feel.



FAVORITE OUTLIER (YOUR FAVORITE MIDDLE GRADE OR ADULT 2013 BOOK)
I beta read an incredible Freaky Friday–like manuscript (oh hello, Alison Miller), which got me craving another body swap story. The Swap is a middle grade novel about two former friends who wake up one day in each other’s bodies, and it’s funny and adorable.



BOOK THAT’S READY-MADE FOR HOLLYWOOD
I’m happy when my favorite books head to Hollywood, but when those books are gorgeously written, I worry the movie might not capture a lot of what made me love the story in the first place (I’m thinking of you, Scorpio Races). Other books seem perfect for the big screen, like Bright Before Sunrise, which is a YA Before Sunrise. There have been two more movies with the same setup, so it’s safe to say this book would do well as a movie.


First, link to your Best In Show post, below. Then enter our giveaway, below. We’ll pick four winners who will each receive one of our favorite 2014 YA novels. 






What 2014 book do you think would work well as a TV show or movie?